• jason matthews

#Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus right now: Over 400,000 fatalities globally

(Reuters) - Global deaths from the novel coronavirus have now topped 400,000, as case numbers surge in Brazil and India, according to a Reuters tally. About one-quarter of all fatalities have occurred in the United States, but deaths in South America are rapidly rising, particularly in Brazil, which may overtake the United Kingdom to have the second-largest number of deaths in the world.

Good news Down Under

New Zealand has no active cases of COVID-19 for the first time since February 28, the health ministry said in a statement on Monday, adding that the last person who was being monitored for coronavirus has now been released from isolation as he's been symptom-free and is regarded as recovered.

As the country begins to open up after eliminating the coronavirus, it is looking to its film industry to give its battered economy a boost. Hollywood director James Cameron and a 55-member crew flew in on a chartered plane last week to film the much-anticipated sequel of the epic science-fiction movie "Avatar", with special permission given by the government.

Air New Zealand, the national flag carrier, laid out an 800-day plan about how it targets a return to "healthy profits" by 2022 by being nimbler, flying fewer passengers and routes and with possible further job cuts. "We must first survive, then revive and finally thrive," CEO Greg Foran said in an email to staff and customers.

Potential pharma megamerger

Britain's AstraZeneca has approached U.S. rival Gilead Sciences about a possible merger to form one of the world's largest drug companies, Bloomberg News reported on Sunday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Such a deal would unite two of the drugmakers at the forefront of the industry's efforts to fight the new coronavirus and could be politically sensitive as governments seek control over potential vaccines or treatments.

If combined, the two companies would have a market capitalisation of about $232 billion, based on Friday's closing share prices. Both companies declined to comment on the report.

Back in stores with a vengeance

As the lock down eased in England, the number of shoppers in early June indicate "a huge amount" of pent-up demand amongst consumers for spending money in physical stores, industry data showed on Monday.

Diane Wehrle, director of market researcher Springboard, highlighted the "monumental queues" that built up at major home stores in the weekend before the official easing of lockdown restrictions in England on June 1.

Original News Source Reuters (Compiled by Karishma Singh)

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